Tue 25 Jun 2019 8:29PM

Evolving the Unicorn DAC Experiment

KI Kris is Public Seen by 156

So, the idea is to get your thoughts first, before a more final proposal is suggested at the Community Meeting. First and foremost I want to say that I appreciate the entire Unicorn DAC initiative very much (more info on it here ) , I am just wondering how we can improve it, starting by mentioning some of the things I noticed myself + people told me over the past months. So here we go:


1/ Delay in payments:

  • Even if every unicorn uses the 450/600 DAI to fill other people's Milestones we are always behind because there are simply more Milestones out there than what we can cover. For some individuals this can run into months of being behind on reg reward payments, which can be very stressful. We now have 4-5 Unicorns delegating +/- 3000 DAI/week. If you count +/- half sending 150 to themselves every week, this leaves +/- 2500 DAI/week to fill 4900 DAI/week in Milestones (kay, bowen, dani, kris, michael, jeff, andre) + all the extras.

  • I understand the logic of 'feeling the scarcity' but to me it's just not the healthiest to work this way esp when you count arguments 2 & 3 on top of this one. People will not be extra motivated to help us get funding by not being able to pay their rent. Being able to have a roof above you and eat food are basic needs, and to me this scarcity tactic has no positive impact whatsoever.

  • I however understand that this is a reality. I am contributing to reducing this scarcity by 1) lowering my weekly hours until we get funding. And hope to help get this funding. I see the 700 DAI reg reward as a maximum but not a given. If I have put in fewer hours I will ask for less than the 700. The 150 I only request when I go above and beyond that week. 2) inviting everyone to always think during roles feedback if what I (and others) do contributes to our immediate goals. If not please say so.

2/ Not an improvement in 'just' delegations / possibly unfair system

  • I heard from Griff during last week's call that he's happy that he no longer has to decide who gets funds this week by himself, I get this. But do we actually 'decide' this now? Imagine I believe Dani is not really doing a good job right now or in general. If I don't delegate funds to her Milestone, after a while she will stop delegating funds to me as well (rightfully so). On top of this she will wonder if she's doing something 'wrong' but will not get any feedback or be motivated to start doing a better job. She will only receive less funds. And more stress. What works better for me to give feedback to people: the roles meeting (with roles linked to goals).

  • It creates so many layers of unfairness (to me). If I add it higher up in the list my Milestone will prob get filled quicker. I don't know eg Jorge personally, so I will probably skip his Milestone bcs I do know Dani/Kay etc. People who shout the loudest (often people like me) get a quicker payment or get bumped up the list, and this feels not very 'just' to me. I could literally get punished by the current system if I were an introvert.

3/ Unnecessary overhead

  • Every week 4-6 people open a sheet, check which Milestones are filled by clicking them open, if they're not they check if they have been filled in the previous 1-2 week(s) and do some copy pasting magic, after making the necessary calculations. (easily 3hrs/week in 'manpower')
    Every 2 weeks (the new rule) lorelei gets to work, checks what has been filled per person and does min. 2, sometimes upto 5 delegations per person. (easily 4hrs/week in 'manpower')

  • To me this is a layer of 'corporate' overhead, of administration, that does not add any value (really, none) to what Giveth wants to bring to the world, nor does it teach us any new lessons. I think we got our lessons and it might be time to document this and move on to a new experiment.

  • De facto Griff will still decide by directly filling Milestones that he feels deserve some quicker funding. He's fully entitled to do so as a donor/Giver. So this is no criticism whatsoever, it just makes all the 'overhead' feel extra useless, because we're not really delegating in a decentralized way anyways.


  • If our main donor (griff) sticks to a maximum amount he wants to spend per week (which makes total sense!!!) until we get external funding we give delegation power to loie to spread that amount evenly over all Milestones that are up in the sheet during those two weeks to avoid any unnecessary overhead or unfair treatment.

  • So in the sheet you list all your Milestones that need to be funded + you add a simple yes/no for your weekly 150 Unicorn Milestone.

So example: if we now spend 3000 DAI/week (rough calculation) and we have 12 Milestones up, each Milestone gets 250 DAI/week. If there are eg 3 Unicorn Milestones this amount becomes 204 DAI/week. ((3000-450)/12). FYI: I'm also open to completely drop the 150 extra/week.

Note 1: At all times Griff can and is ofc allowed to decide - as a donor/Giver - to send funds to a Circle or to fill Milestones directly. The above proposal does not change this.

Note 2: I'm open to create a DAO on aragon as a new (small) gov experiment, but not to replace this system, to me it just feels like an extra layer of overhead on top of what we already have (more people will spend even more time on an already heavy admin process with no added value)


Marko Prljic Wed 26 Jun 2019 1:00PM

Needs further discussion and I don't want to give uninformed suggestions at this point. However, I believe simplicity is always a better choice, we just need to consider and agree on any tradeoffs.


Jeff Emmett Wed 26 Jun 2019 1:55PM

I agree with the pain points as mentioned above! As someone who is not great at the online communications, I feel like my work is often overlooked - if I'm heads down working even more so than if I'm less busy and able to attend regular meetings. Does this system incentivize talking about the work over the work itself? Payment lag is pretty bad too, although so were my payment submissions - either way, I think the cognitive overhead of our payment systems should be reduced as much as possible!


Marko Prljic Wed 26 Jun 2019 2:02PM

@danibelle This is related to the new milestones and donation flow that we're suppose to be working on together, right?


Dani Wed 26 Jun 2019 7:18PM

Not really. This is about funding regular reward milestones, which is essentially what the Unicorn DAC has been reduced to in these lean times.

Our work is to ease the complexity of milestone creation for all types. It does perhaps relate, to the extent that making milestones is hard, and new recipients of Giveth funds are likely intimidated by the process which causes a lag in making them.


Marko Prljic Wed 26 Jun 2019 7:25PM



Loie Wed 26 Jun 2019 9:31PM

seconding nearly all that Jeff says. esp this: Does this system incentivize talking about the work over the work itself? (This has, since the very beginning, been a huge concern for me w/ Giveth's paradigm in general.)
Part of me wishes the Unicorn DAC experiment was not born at the beginning of crypto winter. It's an amazing concept that I offered to nurse&raise on behalf of the minds that started the idea, and I still think it has so much value ~> as what it was intended for <~ NOT necessarily as our regular payment system as it is now.
So, to exploring a different system for regular payments - I say yes!
...in theory. There's just so much to navigate here before we can properly say if we want a "regular" system or not...
I've always heard this ideal w/ Giveth that everybody has other jobs, and they do giveth in their side time/passion project time and therefore aren't stressed about a reliable paycheck from Giveth.
I've also heard strong values of UBI, and to the opposing effect, only deliverable/milestone based rewards. These 2 oppose each other and somehow they also both oppose traditional corporate compensation standards.
Which values do we really want to execute on? Will we be able to pay people in a way that both fits our dreams and our business strategy? Have we reached a scale that those lax payment values no longer fit - are we too in production mode to be experimenting with that right now?
I have a lot of questions and a lot of feelings that make up my initial response to this. Not quite able to process those into tangibles yet. I notice this is a thread and not a "decision" - is the intention to let this thread collect conversation for a few more days before making an official proposal that goes into the gov process at the Community meeting? Or are we supposed to be deciding on something tomorrow?


Kris is Thu 27 Jun 2019 11:33AM

I'm totally okay not coming to any decision just yet, that was indeed the idea!


Josh Fairhead Fri 28 Jun 2019 2:13PM

This feels like quite a balanced response and brings up some good points, thanks Loie. I believe this is 100% a bootstrapping problem with non-perfect outcomes so I'll outline some thoughts:

On a fundamental level I believe that Giveth if intended as a grass roots altruistic network should not have a priest class; whoever pays the piper calls the tune - such a pattern creates asymmetric top down risk and comes with all sorts of other pathologies omnipresent in modernity that I believe we are trying to escape or at least co-opt.

The key concept to escaping the bootstrapping cycle though is a balance between input and output.

Input being Dunbars social grooming, hierarchal maintenance or sustaining of good relations. Output being deliverables. The frame is hard vs soft skills and for sure there is a virtuous circle that needs to be closed in order to remain stable and sustainable (even regenerative).

In order to create value, deliverables are required; no value output, no point in doing work (efficiency vs effectiveness).

Deliverables however bring about another can of worms surrounding the definitions of such, how they are decided, who decides and the incentive to actually do something given most people would prefer to be on their own adventure/trip; e.g. no one would want to be an accountant without getting paid, bureaucracy is just not fun but someone has to do those kinds of activities to maintain the social cohesion.

So we need to ask (from an appreciative approach) what kinds of mundane tasks do we value as output? Whats efforts are required to keep the cogs turning and what are not? How can we quantify these tasks (Kris has made a start from the looks of it re: Unicorn DAC) into standalone services? i.e what is suitable for "internal bounty" or standalone process?

We have to then consider that bureaucracy is highly focalising and limits world views (have you ever met an adventurous/creative accountant??). It's unhealthy and unsustainable at 40hrs a week and easily leads to burn out or mental numbness. No single person should be responsible for such tasks but they certainly need doing. As an ideal, I'd suggest that any hard deliverable should receive both payment for the time spent and payment for the same amount of time spent on more creative or social endeavours (aka the hard to quantify but still necessary soft skills).

Hmmm, I seem to be losing focus of my points so I'll stop here and leave room for discussion - this is all up for debate as its just a frame. The key question being how/where do we find balance?


Kay Wed 26 Jun 2019 11:03PM

As Loie writes one reaction above mine - this experiment was started at an inopportune time. The whole architecture of it tries to deal with a system of abundance to limit freeriding and identify valuable goals in a sea of proposals. It is now doing nothing of the sorts, because everything changed. As for the sake of this proposal I would say we can let it slumber and revoke it when it is needed again.

The real question on the table is again how we want to treat work and compensation within this community that we call Giveth DAC (currently).

We established some rules about that when Giveth was very young, actually just founded proper and the solution seemed rather simple: People were asked (usually by Griff) if they would like to be a regular part of Giveth - which meant that they would be held accountable to deliver work according to their role. The requirements never changed, so they "sit" at 20h/week and for that you would get your reg reward. No one ever checked your hours, instead we were "goal oriented", did our weekly report to a representative amount of the full group and worked on reinforcing that structure.
The notion of "do Giveth on the side" is a concept that does not seem to work in that context. Either people took it literally and were less and less engaged until they were gone, or they wanted nothing to do with it, feeling Giveth was the place they wanted to put in all their energy which also lead to people leaving because they saw left and right that other crypto projects had way more resources and could reward them down the line.

We are actually struggling with a very common problem: How do you effectively create and manage a commons (in our case - zero fee donation platform, decentralized governance experiment and think-tank, community led resource management) in a capitalist environment where everyone part of it needs money to cover needs but you don't want to charge for the "product" because that devalues the proposition?

This is the central question we have to solve IMO. Giveth would not work as well as it does if it was not angel-funded, but that same thing makes it less relevant to everybody else, because it shows in everything we do.

Don't get me wrong. It was all worth it. We arrived at a great point! However we go from here will make or break the experiment in my opinion (at least concerning the people involved now). The software works and is just waiting to be released upon this world, the people assembled are in it with all their heart and they are really capable, smart and hard-working. I refuse to believe that we would fail at something the web2 world flourishes in when we have the power of creating our own economies.


Dani Tue 2 Jul 2019 4:02PM

The intention of this thread has been stated as a space for us to provide our thoughts on the tensions expressed so here goes!

1/ Delay in payments:
I feel that there is a lot of stress here because we do not have a clear picture of a budget to work within and decision-making steps for events that trigger deviations from the planned expenditures. Events like market volatility effects and personnel changes for example, modify both what we have available and where we are allocating the funds. If we could see that, we could make informed choices on what to cut in order to remain in balance and how to solicit additional funds for specific goals being fulfilled by the individuals completing Milestones.
Establishing and filling a role (previously done by Vojtech?) to manage the budget has been discussed and been deemed important, and Lanski expressed interest, but we have not yet been able to implement this.. Getting it in place and having a regular budget review as part of our scheduled meeting agendas will help immensely I suspect.

2/ Not an improvement in 'just' delegations / possibly unfair system
This to me is a growing pain. The original process, with regular Unicorn meetings to share how and why we are delegating where would utilize our collective intelligence to provide monitoring and feedback toward ever more just distribution.
The ‘layers of unfairness’ could be viewed as the unintended consequences of not maintaining that group oversight and the fears that come from the ‘scarcity mindset’ presented in 1/ leading to elements of what I would call ‘gaming the system’. IAgain with a healthy review process the tactics mentioned would be brought to question and called in when necessary.

3/ Unnecessary overhead
My thoughts here is that these are the lessons we learn on where decentralizing may or may not be as useful as having an ‘expert’ in certain key information areas making decisions. We’ve taken the step of decentralizing Griff’s responsibility for determining which Milestones to fund, and this means also distributing the information needed to make those decisions which adds overhead to each ‘peer’ taking a portion of that workload.

The Proposal to re-centralize allocation of the funding pool and instruct [Loie] to delegate evenly would effectively eradicate the Unicorn DAC intention as I understand it. By limiting our ability as Unicorns to only fund Regular Rewards, we’ve kind of done that already, albeit with the understanding that it’s only until additional funding sources for the Giveth DAC are generating enough to cover Regular Rewards PLUS additional contributor Milestones.

To Summarize or TL;DR:
We are not Doing what we Said we would Do. In order to effectively evaluate the system and improve it, we must look at What We Said, identify Why we are Not Doing it, and address the causes rather than the symptoms.

Key Quotes from the Wiki that have been changed functionally and we are now experiencing the symptoms as expressed in the Tension:
We create a DAC whose sole purpose is to pay Unicorns to Steward the Giveth Galaxy.
THIS IS SEPARATE FROM SALARY GIVEN BY CIRCLES. That is still their own domain :-)
Once a month we have a big Unicorn party where we go around in a circle and explain the different milestones we donated to.
Unicorn DAC onboards Unicorns and alotts them up to $600 every week, to be delegated to themselves and other Giveth milestones, thus giving them influence on the trajectory of Giveth, while testing new features of the DApp.


Griff Green Thu 4 Jul 2019 2:46PM

yeah its a tough one... obv i donate more on top of the unicorn dac donations to keep the cycle flowing... The Unicorn DAC gives all of you the power to fund what you think is most urgent... its for sure not the most efficient (decentralization is NEVER efficient) but it is more robust and helps dampen the power that i wield as the main angel...

I would rather see a focus from the core team to try to make it so that we can solve the technical hurdles that are causing the extra bureaucracy... If DAOs could use the DApp, and Unicorns could just donate directly, then the real problem would shine thru, we are short on cash and need to bring regeneration into Giveth.


Loie Thu 4 Jul 2019 5:11PM

I jotted these notes here in the mtg so i wouldn't forget my reactions, didn't intend to publish so they are blunt, but I figure now, why not:
- there is an improvement in just delegations, y'all probably weren't seeing before the biased way griff was choosing to fund things
- i don't want to do the payroll role that is proposed here, i was never asked
- 150 Unicorn milestone was for, ...being a Unicorn - including delegating each week!
- I see value in people knowing how fast their milestones will get filled on average, this is a positive thing this proposal could bring
- if we are going to switch to this more "equal" predictable, traditional biz pay process, along with that needs to come a stringent hiring/firing/cutbacks process. there is no firing in this organization or even clear cutbacks of people's hours, which causes us to drain our funds. the "fight for your own milestones" approach is a package that includes self regulating when you're getting paid and when not. the "one person acts like a union rep and payroll person at the same time ensuring your rights to equal predictable pay" approach is also a package, that comes with demoting, cutbacks, and firing. Is Giveth going to adopt that culture? Is Griff ready to take on that difficult role?